FOX Sports Insider
The best part of this quiet moment in the National Football League for Trevor Lawrence? The idea that next season might actually be something worth looking forward to for the 23-year-old quarterback and his Jacksonville Jaguars team.
The worst? Waiting for it to arrive.
Lawrence is understandably optimistic, as are many neutral observers, about the Jags’ chances of making a splash in 2023. During a conversation a few days before the Super Bowl, Lawrence told me he could see real similarities between where the his team now and where the Philadelphia Eagles were 12 months ago.
“One hundred percent,” Lawrence said. “We have all the pieces we need to make a run [like them]. This is our goal. We won’t settle for less than that. This is the goal moving forward. After the experience we had and being able to get to the divisional round and have a chance to win this game, the guys will use that as fuel.
“That was a big part of this year, proving and proving that we belong. I think we’ve proven that and it’s really exciting, the next few years, especially next year, what we have the opportunity to do.”
Jacksonville has won five straight to rebound from a shaky start and take control of the AFC South away from the fast-fading Tennessee Titans. Then, in Lawrence’s first career playoff game and the franchise’s first since the 2017 season, he engineered a second-half comeback to beat the Los Angeles Chargers after trailing by 27 points.
Jaguars shock Chargers by erasing 27-0 deficit
Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars came back from 27 points down to beat the Chargers 31-30 in the wild-card round. Trevor Lawrence threw four touchdown passes to lead the third-largest comeback in playoff history.
Then, against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jags struggled before the chance for a major upset slipped away.
The comparisons to the Eagles are striking. Like Jacksonville this season, Philly went 9-8 to make the playoffs in 2021, then fell apart this past campaign, culminating in a close game. Super Bowl LVII defeat the Chiefs who were going down to the wire.
Lawrence understands that just as the significant growth and development of Jalen Hurts played a role in the Eagles’ rise, the same responsibility now rests on his shoulders in Florida.
“If I can just step up this year like I did from first to second, it will give us a good chance to win every week,” he added. “That’s the only goal in all of this, to win.
“We had a big win in the playoffs, a comeback and then a tough loss against the Chiefs. Both games gave us a lot to learn from. When we get back to those positions, having that experience will really help us.”
None of Jacksonville’s division rivals finished the campaign with any kind of momentum. Both the Titans and Indianapolis Colts entered the offseason on the back of seven straight losses, without a win since mid-November. The Houston Texans were 3-13-1 and the second-worst team in football, then they fired Lovie Smith.
However, Lawrence refuses to take anything for granted, despite the newfound positivity surrounding the organization.
“It all starts every year, that’s the good and the bad,” he said. “Nothing goes on. Everyone starts at the same level, and you have to play the whole season and earn your chance in the postseason.
“That being said, I love what we’re building here, the culture. We have a lot of experience from this season to build on, the chemistry we have with the group and the things we’ve learned.”
Colin’s Top 10 QBs of 2023
Colin Cowherd reveals his top 10 quarterbacks heading into the 2023 season, including Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence in the top half.
Lawrence spoke to me ahead of his appearance at the inaugural P&G Battle of the Paddles table tennis event, which pitted eight NFL stars against each other in ping pong action during Super Bowl week.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Trent Taylor eventually won the event, but Lawrence’s skills were solid, and the QB said the presence of table tennis equipment in the Jags’ locker room had been an underrated difference maker this year.
“My freshman year we didn’t have a table, this senior year we did,” he said. “If there’s none, guys are just going to be on their phones. There’s no downside. It gives guys a chance to bond and get to know each other and build that chemistry. We play a lot, between meetings, then practice , before practicing, whenever we have downtime.”
Overall, the atmosphere in Jacksonville could hardly be more different compared to recent years, with just 15 wins in the four seasons leading up to 2022. The new optimism, in large part due to the compound development of the man under center , is very welcome.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.
FOX Sports Top Stories:
Get more from the National Football League Follow your favorites for information on games, news and more